Netiquette: email signature separator

It’s time for another netiquette rant: There are way too many people not using the double dash marker as the first line of their email signature.

The Usenet standards specify that a signature block should be delimited from the body of the message by a single line consisting of exactly two hyphens, followed by a space, followed by the end of line (i.e., “– \n”). This latter prescription, which goes by many names, including “sig dashes”, “signature cut line”, “sig-marker”, “sig separator” and “signature delimiter”, allows software to automatically mark or remove the sig block as the receiver desires.


If you use this as the first line of you email signature, almost all mail software and webmail clients know not to display your signature again in replies and long mail threads. Gmail even displays a small triple-dots icon on the first email instead of showing the signature by default, so you don’t waste screen space on it.

These 3 characters (actually 4 if you include the newline) can make emailing so much more enjoyable, especially as a lot of people feel the need to include 4 different company contacts, 6 social media profiles, 3 inline logos and a 5 line disclaimer text in their emails. So please, add it to your signature. The Internet thanks you.

P.S. The next rant will be about “do not delete older conversations from an email thread”. It’s not 2000 anymore. Bandwidth and disk space cost close to nothing nowadays.

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